Two small rural towns in Kansas celebrate winning $1.7 million to revitalize downtowns by rehabilitating dilapidated buildings

On August 16, 2023, two rural communities in Kansas celebrated the news that they would each receive $250,000 in federal grants to assist with community redevelopment projects.

The $500,000 will be matched with $1,236,632 of local funding, totaling more than $1.7 million of revitalizing new investment in Emporia (population 24,13) and Osawatomie (population 4255).

The federal Commercial Rehabilitation grants are being awarded to revitalize downtown areas through the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) program, which the Kansas Department of Commerce Community Development Division administers.

Downtown Emporia (2012). Photo by Ethan James Scherrer via Wikipedia.

Vibrant Kansas main streets are a critical component of bringing prosperity to communities across the state,” Governor Laura Kelly said.

We will continue marshaling all available funding to make it possible for rural communities to afford these necessary but costly projects,” she added.

So far this year, five Commercial Rehabilitation projects have been funded for a total of almost $1.1 million.

Earlier announced grants are assisting Atchison, Independence, and Meriden.

Investments in downtown commercial districts increase the viability of local economies, particularly in smaller Kansas communities,” Lieutenant Governor and Secretary of Commerce David Toland said.

Leveraging these federal dollars will assist in overall revitalization and encourage further private sector growth,” he continued.

The Osawatomie and Emporia Commercial Rehabilitation projects meet the CDBG national objective of revitalizing downtown commercial districts:

  • Osawatomie funds will be used to fix roofing, windows, and doors and demolish an attached garage of a downtown building.
    • The first floor will be used for commercial space, with short-term living rentals on the second floor.
  • Emporia will use the grant to install a sprinkler system and roofing, repair a masonry wall, and make ADA improvements to a downtown building.
    • The first floor will consist of office space, an art studio, and community space. The second floor will consist of short-term lodging units.

The CDBG program provides federal funds to local governments for the development of viable communities by addressing their housing, public facilities, and economic needs.

The CDBG funds are one of the Department of Commerce’s primary tools in supporting the state’s smaller, predominantly rural communities.

Featured photo of downtown Osawatomie is by Jared Winkler via Wikipedia.

See the complete list of 2023 CDBG awardees.

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